What is nature connection and what are the benefits for both human and planetary health? Here are some of the sources I study and use to develop wellbeing in nature sessions…
Forest Bathing (Shinrin-yoku)
We know that spending time in woodlands, especially ancient and/or biodiverse forests has many health benefits including reducing cortisol levels (stress hormone), boosting our immune system, reducing inflammation and improving concentration. Academics in Japan and South Korea have been researching the health benefits of forests since the 1990’s.
A research group at the University of Derby have observed ‘pathways’ to connecting with nature which strengthen our relationship with nature. A strong relationship with nature means both wellbeing benefits for us such as feeling happier and more satisfied, and when we appreciate nature we want to care for and protect it. I use these pathways in my sessions to enable you to strengthen your nature connection and more readily experience the wellbeing benefits of being in nature.
Theories about nature
Attention Restoration Theory explains how our cognitive functioning can change when we spend time in nature. We can feel restored and relaxed when certain environmental factors are met and our expectations of time spent in nature are met. Psycho-evolutionary theory and explains that we are part of nature and that we feel unhappy and disconnected when we live ‘separately’ from nature. Ecopsychology links the health of the planet with the health of our psyches, our emotional bond with the earth.
I listen to perspectives and understanding about nature connection from land-based people and communities. Some cultures do not experience themselves as separate from nature and/ or have a reciprocal relationship with nature. There are over 370 million indigenous people in 70 different countries, all distinct. The knowledge and perspective in the West about nature connection is one small drop in a very large ocean.
Folklore and myths
Folklore and myths add to a sense of place and history. I’ve been lucky to live in and visit many of the most beautiful places in the UK. In the UK there are varied ways of relating to nature through stories. Now that I have settled in Wales I am becoming familiar with the tales of the Maiden of the Green Forest and those about the petrified forest on Borth Beach.